Our fridge tends to be bursting with bags of fruit and vegetables and arugula that will super-definitely be eaten before it wilts; but on the occasion of this particular photograph, taken the morning after my return from summer in Wyoming (before which a massive clearing-out had taken place), it mercifully boasts just five categories of items.
First we have the New Perishables, last night’s jet-lagged bodega haul: yogurt, Dubliner cheese, eggs. Roasted red peppers, for some reason? Basic, utilitarian, devoid of any emotional relevance, destined for immediate consumption.
Then there are the Dry Goods—farro, granola, polenta—which, thanks to my conviction that leaving them in the pantry would prompt a full infestation by New York City vermin, spent the whole summer in cold storage.
Much of the rest of the inventory falls into the categories of either Unfulfilled Intentions or Future Indulgences. Items belonging to the former were purchased a billion years ago with lofty culinary goals in mind, but are now decaying while my guilt-stricken brain clings to the hope that some use for them might still be found. Those sour cherries, for instance (a childhood-nostalgia-fueled Christmastime splurge) featured in only a solitary Black Forest cake before being shunted to the back of the fridge! Is it too late now, six months later, to repurpose them as ice cream topping, or garnish for homemade Manhattans? Is it too late to move that extra-thick, country0style phyllo (once destined for a gibanica that never got baked) back to the freezer, thereby promoting it to Future Indulgence?
The risk might be worth it. After all, most items belonging to the Future Indulgence category have waited ages for some occasion special enough to warrant their opening. That Thistly Cross Cider, the last of six bottles, was hauled here from Seattle in 2015. The rest were consumed long enough ago that I can no longer remember how it tastes, but now believe it must have been the best cider I ever had. Most of the booze along the bottom shelf awaits an as-yet-unscheduled party that might never happen. The Ballymaloe relish—precious, tangy nectar of the gods—awaits that long-postponed moment when the husband and I succumb to our cravings, crack it open, and subsist only on ploughman’s sandwiches, three squares a day, until the jar is depleted.
And then, alone in their own category, there are the Dairy Milk Buttons eggs. An Easter gift from our tiny cousin, they recently replaced a larger, plainer Cadbury Egg that moved into this apartment in mid-2013, around the same time my husband did, and which, for better or worse, I was convinced might hold apotropaic powers favorable to our marriage. Relenting to the Egg’s disposal was one of the most terrifying things I’ve done in recent memory. I think it’s safe to say its cheerful, crazy-eyed monkey replacements are going nowhere soon.
Téa Obreht is the author of The Tiger’s Wife and Inland.
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Author: Téa Obreht